5 Things Every Hotel Website Should Feature for a Better UX

Designing a hotel website is like preparing for a first date – you don’t get a second chance to make an impression. While us ladies may take hours to get ready for a date (the hair, the nails, the outfit, and everything else), many guys just literally roll out of bed. Or they claim they don’t, but that’s what it looks like, from their disheveled shirt to their scruffy beard and mismatched socks. You may try to give the guy a fair shot, but he’s already bet the odds against him when he shows up looking like that.

I don’t want your hotel website suffering the same poor, first impression. So how can you ensure your website gets that second date?

The first step is to understand what aspects of your hotel website cause visitors to leave without booking. Visitors leave because of:

  • Limited content
  • An ineffective value proposition
  • A poor user experience on the booking engine page
  • Higher than expected rates
  • Inconsistent information on the booking page and the rest of the website
  • Lack of urgency – the page doesn’t show travelers why they should book now

Many of those points can be tackled by designing your hotel website for the user experience – here are five things your hotel website should feature to get started:


1. Photos and videos are useless without this…


If you’re just using static images of your hotel in an effort to have a visually-driven website, you can forget about it having any lasting effects. Travelers aren’t just looking at photos and videos; they’re looking for ones that elicit emotion and tell a story.

Artist and poet Kahlil Gibran once said that, “next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling.” This couldn’t be truer in hospitality.

To go back to our dating example, sure, someone may swipe right at a pretty picture but will they go out with just anyone with a nice photo? (I’d hope not). The deciding factor is what comes next – the words they use to express who they are. With hotel websites, your photos and videos are extremely important in conveying to travelers what you have to offer – only if you’re also telling a story.


2. Align content to the user’s natural eye movements


When you visit a website, your eye naturally follows an F or Z pattern as you scan information on the page. If you have a visual website, then the user will scan the headings and the visuals, mimicking the Z pattern. If you have a more text-heavy website, then the user will scan the headings and subheadings, mimicking the F pattern.

Provide the most important information to match those pattern types.


3. Speaking of content, make sure to include this…


So what is the most important information that travelers are looking for? Studies show more travelers care about free WiFi and smart outlets than anything else; but before you make a section on your homepage about your free WiFi, consider the reason why travelers want this perk.

In fact, do this before you publish anything on your website. Just like displaying photos of rooms with no context won’t elicit an emotional response from your visitor, so too listing amenities won’t make a visitor more likely to book. In the book Conversations that Win the Complex Sale, the author notes that you should always find the deeper meaning, why someone would buy what you’re offering. They’re not getting free WiFi, they’re getting five minutes of FaceTiming with their kids without seeing “poor connection” show up on their screen.


4. Don’t use reviews and social proof unless…


We’re breaking the mold of every other hotel marketing advice – yes, you need reviews on your website but don’t forget about where and how you’re using them.

Just like it’s great to hear a mutual friend say nice things about the guy you’re going out with, it would be a little overwhelming if every person you’ve ever met called to tell you what a great guy he is. Rather than displaying every review ever written about your hotel, offer summarized reviews that highlight the key points travelers want to know.

Consider using social proof (a tweet, Facebook post etc. about a happy stay) or a summary of reviews on your homepage but use the more in-depth reviews at the later stage of the buyer journey – on the booking page and in the confirmation email. This also helps ensure consistency on your website and in your post-purchase marketing (lack of consistency is one of the top reasons visitors don’t purchase).


5. Change your call-to-action


Finally, one of the most important parts of your website is your call-to-action – like many hotel websites, chances are yours says “book now.” The only problem with this is that it doesn’t show the user what they’re getting in return and it doesn’t elicit urgency.

When you visit Lyft’s website and apply to be a driver, the call-to-action button doesn’t just say “submit your information,” it says “Become a driver!”

Consider ways you can improve yours as well – I’d love to see a hotel website that says “Start your vacation” or “Your next trip is waiting” instead of “book your hotel room now.” In addition to the copy on the button, considering using visual cues to focus visitors to look at the call-to-action – when looking at a photo with people in it, our eyes naturally are drawn to where they’re looking. So consider actually having a photo of a traveler looking upwards, at your call-to-action.  


These five things can help your website stand out from the competition, elicit an emotional response from visitors and get them returning again and again – so that you secure your second date.


Which of these five features work best on your hotel website?